Some Saturated Fatty Acids Linked To Risk of Coronary Artery Disease Interview with:

Dr. Qi Sun Sc.D, M.D., M.M.S. Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath Boston

Dr. Qi Sun

Dr. Qi Sun Sc.D, M.D., M.M.S.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath
Boston What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Interpretation of existing human study data regarding saturated fat intake in relation to heart disease risk is quite confusing and distorted in certain publications. It is a fact that, depending on data analysis strategies, the effects of saturated fats may depend on which macronutrients they replace. For example, substituting saturated fats for refined carbohydrates will not lead to an elevated risk of heart disease because both nutrients are harmful whereas replacing saturated fats with good polyunsaturated fats results in risk reduction. In our current analysis, we clearly demonstrated that when total saturated fatty acids were replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, whole grain carbohydrates, and plant-based proteins, the diabetes risk would decrease.

Furthermore, we showed that major individual saturated fatty acids were all associated with an elevated heart disease risk. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The current study supports the current dietary guidelines that consistently recommend reducing saturated fat to no more than 10% of total energy. This goal could be achieved by eating a healthful diet consists of fruits, vegetables, while grains, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, fish, and vegetable cooking oils that are low in saturated fat contents. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We demonstrated evidence that certain saturated fatty acids, such as the 16:0, might be particularly detrimental to cardiovascular health. This finding is in line with solid evidence from clinical trials that showed detrimental effects of 16:0 on blood lipids. Future studies should replicate our findings in other cohort studies or trials and explore further the mechanisms that underlie such observations. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Zong Geng, Li Yanping, Wanders Anne J, AlssemaMarjan, Zock Peter L, Willett Walter C et al. Intake of individual saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: two prospective longitudinal cohort studies BMJ 2016;355 :i5796

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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